Making it worse

by , under church, readings

Today’s Gospel readings: the first for the Sunday of the Forefathers and the second for Daniel and the Three Holy Youths.

Luke 14, 16b-24

A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’ Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.’

Luke 11, 47 – 12, 1

“Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore the wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”

And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.

In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

We had Typika — Fr T was serving elsewhere — so the reading fell to me. The first thing I noticed when reading it through before the service was that “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah” neatly covers everything, A to Z! But in Greek, of course, Z is not even near the end of the alphabet.

(Then I got distracted by the next bit of Luke, which has “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins?” and I knew I’d read that elsewhere and found it in Matthew: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin?” Buy four, get one free! And wondering why you’d buy sparrows in the first place, but Choirmistress and I rather thought it was to eat, if you can’t afford a chicken you buy smaller and cheaper birds.)

When I read the two parts as one, like one does in a service, I noticed something else: it’s perfectly possible to interpret the Luke 11 section as admonishment to the people who declined being at the supper. Wow, that escalates quickly! But only if the Sunday of the Forefathers happens to fall on the 17th; otherwise it’s not by far as bad as the equivalent parable from Matthew which I blogged about before.